Self-help books are undoubtedly one of the biggest literary phenomena in recent history. In fact, they’re often found all over the bestseller lists. They discuss many different problems, from various angles and disciplines including psychology, philosophy, mysticism and religion.

Every day, more and more people turn to books for personal improvement and to guide them through life’s day-to-day problems. Self-help books tackle issues as varied as quitting smoking, coping with the loss of a relative, boosting self-esteem, increasing efficiency at work and how to be in a loving relationship.

Key Facts

  • These days, it’s easy to find a self-help book for almost any problem you might encounter. These books are usually written by experts in the matter, and they offer a much-needed source of guidance.
  • There are self-help books for people of all backgrounds and ages: children, teens, parents and more. Some of these books are written as gripping novels, while others may have a more standard style.
  • Picking out a self-help book isn’t an easy task for anybody. Because of this, we suggest following a few guiding principles. For example, you should check out other readers’ comments and do some research on the book’s author.

Ranking: 5 self-help books to get you started

In the following section, we’ve gathered five self-help books that are among the best sellers of 2019. We’re sure that one (or all!) of these books will be right for you, and will offer you quality guidance in your life.

No. 1: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World

Admiral William H. McRaven is a #1 New York Timesbestselling author who served for thirty-seven years as a Navy SEAL, operating at every level, including Commander of all US Special Operations Forces. This guy is full of great advice, including ten guiding principles that he originally laid out in a commencement speech in 2014. That speech was the inspiration for Make Your Bed.

Described by readers and critics as powerful, captivating and smart, this book provides simple advice, practical tips and encouraging stories about people who have overcome tough situations with the courage that we’re all capable of. If you’re looking to be inspired, this is the book for you.

No. 2: Best Self: Be You, Only Better

Have you ever wondered if the life you’re living is the one you always wanted or dreamed of? The answer is probably yes, and if so, this book can help you to tackle that difficult question and make real changes to turn dreams into reality.

Mental health specialist Mike Bayer, also known by many of his clients as Coach Mike, has guided pop stars, business executives and everyone in between toward better understanding of themselves and the world around them. Now it’s your turn to read this book and learn about each of Bayer’s seven sphere of life: Social, Personal, Health, Education, Relationships, Employment and Spiritual Development. Take revealing quizzes and intriguing questionnaires along the way.

No. 3: You Are a Badass:  How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

Jen Sincero is a bestselling author, speaker and success coach whose advice has been shared around the world through newsletters, seminars, public appearances and books like this one. It’s an entertaining how-to guide that will help you identify and tackle negative beliefs and behaviors that you exhibit on a day-to-day basis.

Read this book and let it help you to shape a life you love and make some money on the way. Don’t worry, this isn’t a boring academic treatise but instead a funny, unique book full of inspirational stores, memorable advice and easy exercises to take with you everywhere.

No. 4: How to Make Sh*t Happen

Sean Whalen has many titles, among them father, entrepreneur, podcaster and business coach. He’s known for his frank discussing of divorce, success and even suicide, sharing how telling the truth in both his personal and professional environments saved his life. In this book, he takes on tough topics like self-confidence, work-life balance and dealing with the chaos of daily life.

Make Sh*t Happenis a quick read with a powerful message that isn’t sugarcoated but will get you motivated to bring about change. Many readers are grateful for the author’s frank style, a refreshing change in a genre that can sometimes come off as lofty and overly optimistic.

No. 5: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)

This amazing book has been a New York Timesbestseller for over a decade, sold more than 8.5 million copies and is translated into 46 different languages. If that doesn’t convince you to try it, then maybe readers’ comments that it’s powerful, inspiring and enlightening will.

Author Don Miguel Ruiz is known for boiling down complex issues into common sense terms, gaining him millions of fans and the approval of Oprah Winfrey. In this book, he discusses the source of self-limiting beliefs that make us upset and creates suffering. He also offers a powerful code of conduct that can help us embrace freedom, happiness and true love.

Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about self-help books

Sometimes called self-development books, these works are often undervalued by naysayers. Nonetheless, millions of people around the world have turned to self-help books for crucial guidance when they’ve felt particularly lost or hurt. In the below section, we answer some of the most common questions about this genre of books.

How should I read self-help books?

Reading self-help books can be pretty different from reading other books. Unlike novels, for example, you probably won’t just lay back on your sofa and let the story take you into another world. If you really want to get the most out of a self-help book, you’ll likely need to immerse yourself into every page, reading some sentences again and again until you fully understand them.

We recommend keeping a notebook with you, so you can jot down the most meaningful and important concepts or ideas. You may then want to search the net to deepen your understanding. Feel free to underline inspiring passages and to take notes right on the pages themselves; this is a great sign that you’re internalizing the book’s message.

Reading a self-help book can be a very different experience from that of reading a novel.
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Don’t forget that being critical is especially important when you’re reading a self-help book. You should always ask yourself: Am I connecting with the message this author is trying to convey? If you’re turning pages and feeling like the words just don’t apply to your life, you’ll know that that particular book isn’t the right one for you.

Meanwhile, if you finish a book very quickly, you may want to read it again. You may have skipped over some valuable lessons. Reading this type of literature is a unique experience. For this reason, try to take it slow and immerse yourself into its contents rather than racing to finish it.

How can I get the most from a self-help book?

Now that you’re familiar with how to go about reading self-help books, we’ll go over how to get the most out of them. Start by picking books that are recommended by reliable sources and that focus on topics or issues that you think might offer you a new perspective. You might also want to research more about the author and what pushed her or him to write the book in the first place. This will give you a broader perspective on the book.

Be open to the ideas presented by the book. If you don’t go into the experience with an open mind, you’ll quickly feel that the text doesn’t connect to you and that it isn’t applicable in your life. Nonetheless, there’s also nothing wrong with putting a book aside if the message it sends just isn’t for you. There are thousands of self-help books out there, and we’re sure you’ll find at least a few for you.

Napoleon HillAmerican Author

“Strength and growth only come through continuous effort and struggle.”

Take some time to reflect on the book after you’ve finished reading it. Let the ideas sink in. A good way to apply what you’ve learned is to try incorporating a different teaching from the book each day. Advice shouldn’t only be theoretically solid: it also needs to work in your daily life.

Are there self-help books for teens?

The teenage years are an important, but often difficult, stage in life, filled with confusing changes and transformations. That’s why self-help books are a great way for teenagers to learn to face their own problems. Teen-specific self-help books tend to discuss topics like self-esteem, school, friendships and emotions.

One of the most popular self-help books for teens is You Don’t Have to Learn Everything the Hard Way. Written by children’s book author Laya Saul, it discusses a range of topics that are particularly important during adolescence including different ways to take on challenges, insights on sexuality and how to achieve goals.

Are there atypical self-help books?

Not everyone likes the average self-help book, even though they often appear on bestseller lists. But there are unique self-help books out there, including some in the form of comics or novels, for example.

Some famous comics are actually self-help books in disguise, like Charles Schulz’s Peanutsor the world-famous Mafaldaby Argentine author Quino. Other biographies like Groucho Marx’s hilarious Groucho and Me, or literary classics like The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, also have the potential to help people in need of guidance.

It’s always useful to learn more about the author and what pushed her or him to write their book.
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What are the best self-help books written by women?

There are many great books about personal growth authored by women, including Rhonda Byrne’s best seller The Secret, or Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing magic of Tidying Up, which has sold over 3 million copies worldwide. In that book, Kondo discussing the mysterious connection between the physical order of homes and emotional well-being.

Elizabeth Gilbert, best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love, wrote another unique self-help book called Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. In this book, Gilbert shows us how to empower our most creative selves. Women entrepreneurs like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg have also poured their knowledge into books like Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. This book discusses techniques to awaken the leader inside every woman.

Are there self-help books for children?

Stories are an essential tool of children’s learning. They can be very useful in helping to overcome certain problems children may face during their early years. These books are ideal for boosting their self-esteem and self-confidence. Children can also learn at a young age to manage their emotions and frustration that might otherwise be externalized in the form of temper tantrums.

Self-help books for kids have replaced classic tales. When written in the form of fables or parables, stories can impact children and parents alike, the latter being ultimately responsible for the former’s education. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, or Stick Up for Yourself!by Gershen Kaufman and Lev Raphael are two great books in this genre.

Stephen RichardsAuthor of Cosmic Ordering Guide

“The good thing about a self-help book is that if you misunderstand something then it won’t mock you.”

Have self-help books been made into films?

This genre has indeed been a large source of inspiration for the movie industry. Many films originated from self-help books. These include Sex and the Single Girl(1964), which was inspired by Helen Gurley Brown’s book of the same name, and Think Like a Man(2012), which was based on Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.

Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo’s bestseller He’s Just Not That into You is another self-help book that appeared on the big screen as a popular comedy film in 2009. One more cinematic success inspired by a self-help book is What to Expect When You’re Expecting(2012).

Do self-help books come in the form of novels?

Self-help works often rely on fiction to convey their messages. Novels are perfect for this since they entertain readers while allowing them to easily absorb their teachings and advice. One good example is The Alchemist(1988), by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho.

Canadian author Yann Martel also wrote a novel commonly found in the self-help book section, Life of Pi. This book was adapted into a film in 2012. Other novels that could be classified as self-help books include The Middlesteinsby Jami Attenberg, The Lovely Bonesby Alice Sebold and Turtles All the Way Downby John Green.

Self-help books cover a wide range of different topics, from relationships to self-esteem or even career decisions.
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What are the funniest self-help books?

Self-help books are often seen as especially serious works. Nonetheless, you can find many that address self-help themes in a humorous manner. If you want to experience a unique and fun way to read, we recommend you try Tear Up this Book!by Keri Smith, which is full of fresh new ways to explore your creative side.

Another fan favorite is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by author Mark Manson. Pick up this book if you’re looking for  a genuinely great time reading while also learning important life lessons. In this work, Manson challenges you to face your problems head on, and to choose which problems are worth giving a…

One more fabulous self-help book that draws on humor to show you some useful life lessons is Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes. This book by Jessica Pan takes a frank and funny look at the life of an introvert who sets up a series of personal challenges to take on.

Shopping Criteria

Every year, a huge number of brand new self-help books hit the market. The genre is among the most popular, and authors write about nearly any topic you could possibly think of. Because there are so many options, we want to discuss some key factors that you should consider if you want to pick the book that will most suit you and your life.

  • Author
  • Style
  • Opinions
  • Best Sellers
  • Title

Author

It’s always a good idea to find out a bit more about the author of the book you’re considering. You might then realize that those who write self-help books aren’t always specialists. Try to focus on renowned authors. Don’t forget that these books are meant to give you tips on problems you might be facing, not make them worse!

Style

This is naturally a key factor to think about when selecting your next self-help book. Look for authors who use a clear and friendly tone. You may also want to check the index if you can. It will provide you with a good overview of the book’s content, so you can see if the book delves into too many topics that aren’t of interest to you.

Roy T. BennettAuthor of The Light in the Heart

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make, makes you. Choose wisely.”

Opinions

Today, one great tool that offered by the internet is access to the comments and ratings of others who have already read a particular book. Head to websites with literary recommendations and read through the comments found in online bookshops to learn more about self-help books you’re considering. Nonetheless, you should always take comments with a grain of salt since they might be biased.

Best Sellers

Books that top the bestseller lists are there for a reason: people love them. So if you’re struggling to find the right book, these are probably a good option to fall back on. That being said, don’t be afraid to go for lesser-known works if you feel that they are more suitable to you.

Title

You may have noticed already that self-help books have some pretty interesting titles. Some authors like to put humor in their titles, while others go for sensationalism. This is why we advise you to avoid books that convey bias or any form of discrimination in their title.

Summary

In the first section of our article, you learned about five self-help books that can improve your life. From the simple tips of Make Your Bedto the fun quizzes and provocative questionnaires in Best Self, these bestsellers are sure to be a hit.

This self-help genre covers a wide array of topics. That’s why it’s so important for you to go over a handful of factors when trying to decide which book to read. The criteria we discussed earlier will be of great help in selecting the right book for you.

If you found this article interesting and useful, please share it article on social media with your friends and family. You can also leave a comment with your thoughts in the section below!

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